When it comes to horror, I absolutely adore anthology shows; i.e. TV shows built around a collection of short stories. Whether it’s Goosebumps and Black Mirror or Eerie Indiana and Tales from the Darkside, anthology shows offer a great mix of stories that rarely wear out their welcome.

The beauty of the anthology show is that it is forever changing, to offer different stories. So, if one episode doesn’t quite work for you, then don’t worry, the following episode will be more to your liking.

But when it comes to horror, what are the best anthology shows?

Well, three series which stand out as my go-to anthology shows are:

  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?
  • Tales from the Crypt
  • The Twilight Zone
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These shows never fail to creep me out – no matter how many times I watch them! And if you’re looking for some terrifying tales to get into, then Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Tales from the Crypt and The Twilight Zone, are a great place to start.

But rather than just tell you these are great shows, then suggest you work your way through them all, I’m going to provide you with a list of the best episodes of each series – along with one or two pointers that should be helpful.

So, settle in, turn down the lights and prepare yourself for the horror that is about to unfold.

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The best episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Are-You-Afraid-of-the-Dark
Image: ©Nickelodeon

Are You Afraid of the Dark? is a Canadian children’s horror series, which originally aired on Nickelodeon from 1990 until 2000. The show comprises seven seasons, totaling 91 episodes, and while this is a show aimed at a young demographic, it does boast some genuinely creepy moments.

Now my top tip here is that unless you are desperate to watch the series from start to finish, my advice is to simply check out these ten episodes:

  • The Tale of Laughing in the Dark (1992)
  • The Tale of the Super Specs (1992)
  • The Tale of the Phone Police (1994)
  • The Tale of Apartment 214 (1994)
  • The Tale of the Crimson Clown (1994)
  • The Tale of the Doll Maker (1994)
  • The Tale of the Dream Girl (1994)
  • The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner (1994)
  • The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float (1995)
  • The Tale of the Night Shift (1996)

As mentioned above, this show was designed with a younger audience in mind, so don’t expect blood and guts. But if you want to ease yourself in, with something a little spooky, then this is a good place to begin.

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Tales from the Crypt 

Tales from the Crypt TV
Image: ©HBO

Tales from the Crypt is an American horror series produced by HBO. The show ran from 1989 until 1996, taking in seven seasons and 93 episodes, and was filled with blood, gore and adult content – something very different to Are You Afraid of the Dark?.

During its original broadcast, Tales From the Crypt was very popular and attracted many well-know names in front of and behind the camera. This included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Demi Moore, Kirk Douglas, Tim Curry and Christopher Reeve, to name but a few.

There are lots of hidden gems in Tales from the Crypt, but I highly recommend you seek out the following ten episodes:

  • Four-sided Triangle (1990)
  • Abra Cadaver (1991)
  • Top Billing (1991)
  • Yellow (1991)
  • Split Second (1991)
  • The New Arrival (1992)
  • Split Personality (1992)
  • None But the Lonely Heart (1992)
  • Death of Some Salesman (1993)
  • People Who Live in Brass Hearses (1993)

Tales from the Crypt is a fantastic series, which is sometimes overlooked. My advice is try out the episodes I have suggested, and if you like what is on offer (and you will) then watch the rest of the series.

Every episode is a standalone tale, so there is no need to adhere to a viewing order. Just pick and choose whatever tickles your pickle.

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The best episodes of The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone
Image: ©CBS

Created and presented by Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone is arguably the granddaddy of all anthology shows, having first hit the airwaves in 1959. The show originally ran for five seasons, comprising 156 episodes, with Serling writing and/or co-writing 92 of them.

Now it’s important to note that The Twilight Zone borders both horror AND sci-fi, so some episodes are more one thing than the other. However, there is a very dark undercurrent throughout the entire series, so even the more sci-fi orientated stories have a twisted edge.

There are so many great stories in The Twilight Zone it’s difficult to single them all out – this really is an excellent television show. But to not overwhelm newcomers, I have picked my top six, which I urge you to watch.

The episodes include:

  • The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street (1960)
  • The Hitch-Hiker (1960)
  • It’s A Good Life (1961)
  • Night Call (1964)
  • Nothing in the Dark (1962)
  • The Masks (1964)

Once again, if you like what you see, then do a deep dive of the series. You won’t regret it.

If you have never watched any of the three show listed above, then give them a whirl.

Tales from the Crypt is easily the most gruesome of the three, with Are You Afraid of the Dark? sitting at the other end of the spectrum. The Twilight Zone sits in the middle and is fine to watch with the lights on (but better to watch with them off).

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